Mr. KOHL. Mr. President, today I recognize the 150th anniversary of Wisconsin's own Farmers and Merchants Union Bank. I am honored to have the opportunity to celebrate this extraordinary milestone.
The year 1861 will forever mark the beginning of one of the most trying times in American history. With the onset of the Civil War, financial and banking institutions suffered as a result of the division of our Nation. Inspired by the courage and determination of President Abraham Lincoln, businessman John Wheeler chose that year to open two banks in the town of Columbus, WI. On September 5, John Wheeler became the first president of the Farmers and Merchants Union Bank of Columbus.
Wheeler's passion and commitment to customer service continued in those who followed him as bank leaders. His grandson J. Russell Wheeler was committed to honoring the legacy his grandfather left behind and expanding the bank's profile, reach and influence. He commissioned renowned architect Louis Sullivan who has often been called the ``father of the skyscraper,'' to design and oversee the construction of the new Farmers and Merchants Union Bank building. Sullivan acted as a mentor to architect Frank Lloyd Wright and was diligent in making sure every detail lived up to the standards on which the institution was founded. The product of Sullivan's work has become one of Wisconsin's prized architectural attractions. On October 18, 1972, the bank was entered on the National Register of Historic Places, and later designated a national historic landmark.
Today, Farmers and Merchants Union Bank strives to provide the best in modern banking to customers in Columbus, Fall River, Friesland, Juneau, and the areas that surround those Wisconsin communities. Their mission endures as ``an independent bank known for maintaining a reputation for integrity and fair dealing and promoting growth and stability in the communities they serve.''
I have great admiration for independent banks that are focused on building communities in both the good and hard times. For 150 years, Farmers and Merchants Union Bank has done just that; continued to represent the importance of local ties and their critical role in the health and vitality of the Wisconsin communities they serve.
So for their commitment to providing every customer with the highest quality banking service and to reaching out to the community--a dedication that has helped sustain this institution for a century and a half--I am proud to celebrate this historic occasion and the 150 years of service that the Farmers and Merchants Union Bank has provided to the people of the State of Wisconsin.